Thursday, October 3, 2013

When corn is treasure

Hanging indoors to dry.

Corn smut.
Possibly the best-looking ear, based on what I sorted the seed by.

No idea where this color came from, LOL

Moth Day Oct. 2

This is an Alfalfa looper, Autographica californica.

It is most common from southern British Columbia to southern Saskatchewan and south to the border with Mexico. This species is a generalist feeding on a wide variety of herbaceous plants, but appears to prefer legumes (Fabaceae) (alfalfa).
Adults frequently visit flowers for nectar in open meadow habitats during the day. They are most commonly collected during the night and come readily to lights. They have been collected at almost all times of the year, beginning in February and extending to the end of November.
It is mostly found in May, late July and late September.

This is a Lophocampa maculata, the Mottled tussock moth.

It ranges across southern Canada, western US, south in Appalachians to South Carolina, Kentucky. It likes deciduous forests. Adults (usually) fly from May to July and the tufted caterpillars are from July to September. They prefer leaves of poplar and willow, but also feed on alder, basswood, birch, maple, oak.

Beautiful mosaic on the lower border of its wings.

This one has a hammerhead pattern on it. Hard to know if that's a shape or a coloration. Very good-looking.
There were some I haven't identified!
... another bark-colored moth
This one was flitting around quite vigorously. So fast that I was simply lucky to get this good of a photo of it, about center.

Return of Moth Day, Oct.3

 Lined Sphinx Moth
 From the side, the Lined Sphinx Moth is also darned impressive. I don't know if those are markings or eyes.

 Lined Sphinx Moth from the back
 Virgin Tiger Moth. Doesn't really look like a virgin OR a tiger.

Assorted moths; it's a bad photo, only used to show the moth plethora.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hairy monsters from Mars

Our first melon. The 2nd one was the same size. Not bad for not having much in the way of flesh. We have two more about 8 and 10 inches in diameter.

Hairy demons from Mars! ... Or the caterpillars of Milkweed tussock moths. Anything that can eat milkweed successfully is of interest to me, since I grow it. ... More correctly, I allow it to grow where it wants to. This is not always good for the garden, but can be, as we'll see later.
 Munch, much, chomp, chomp!

This is happening all over my garden because I planted cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are climbing the milkweed. I love that. I love that there are so many surprises in the garden. Every year it's something different.
Habaneros! I do not eat these. I do touch them briefly. Then I wash my hands thoroughly.
The grasshoppers LOVE the lovely hybrid sunflowers I gave them. Sigh. They must be delicious!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Late summer bouquet

I went out for some goldenrod and sunflowers on my break the other day, and I got a bonus of false boneset and stiff goldenrod.

The stiff goldenrod is in the middle right of the bouquet, just above the two biggest sunflowers. The flowers are arranged differently than most goldenrod.

The false boneset (Brickellia eupatorioides) is the beige-colored flower on the left. The leaves of false boneset are arranged differently than common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Both plants have similar blooms and both are medicinal, just for different things.

I look forward to the lovely goldenrod popping up everywhere this time of year. And it's a very good cut flower, too. The sunflowers need to be put in water right away, though, they wilt much faster than goldenrod.

If you get flowers from the ditch like I do, be sure to give them a good shaking before you get back in your vehicle. There are a lot of happy insects and arachnids hanging out on them who would like to continue their normal lives. So let them, yeah?

Random photos of wonderful plants of late summer

I got some groceries today, and this handsome oak tree got my attention. I wonder why it's suckering at the bottom.
Not a great picture, but this white snakeroot is just beautiful right now. It's very toxic to livestock and humans both. But darned pretty. It was growing at the edge of a small woodlot at the edge of town.
I apologize for the poor quality of this photo, but I really liked this dense clump of sunflowers amongst all the corn.
This is the very cute flower of prickly lettuce. I like it, but it's VERY small and the prickly lettuce has a huge ugly factor at this time of year and most times of year.

The only things I admire about it, is that in the drought years it grew just fine, juuuust fine. I have to admire that. And like I said, the flowers are cute.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beautiful and quirky ... but noxious!

Daucus carota aka wild carrot aka Queen Anne's Lace aka bird's nest is a naturalized plant brought with settlers from Europe and southwest Asia. Here is why it's called "bird's nest."

The flower is seen from the edge here; the better picture is of the flower after it's done and it curls up to allow the seeds inside to ripen.

Bring it into your home or property only with the greatest caution. Throw the used flowers into the trash, not your compost.

This plant is known to be a companion plant to tomatoes IN EUROPE and SOUTHWEST ASIA, where it attracts native wasps. It does not do this in North America.

It is classified by the USDA as a noxious weed.

Now, I like it. It's super cute! But I'm very very careful with it. 

If you're curious, the flower spike to the far left, up high, is Russian sage. The furry spike on the far right is Blue vervain with the blossoms near the tip. Below the Queen Anne's lace is flowering spurge, which is going great guns in the ditches right now.

I think of flowering spurge as one of the "bright-white" flowers. Some plants bloom creamy-white, like elderberries; some greenish-white, and others are a bit like spotlights, thus "bright-white" like this spurge.

As you look around at the plants blooming, you'll see things to help you distinguish colors, shapes, heights, etc.

Good hunting!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Drying herbs in the oven

This is but one example of my ultra-fancy labeling. I can always put nicer labels on later, but when I'm drying, I figure I'll remember what stuff is, and when I did it. I swear, I always think I'll remember. But after a couple decades, yeah, I think I get it now.

This is a first for me, but I turned the oven on to WARM. I checked the thermometer inside frequently. After 8 times and about 90 minutes, I figured that 80 degrees was about as hot as it was going to get while open.

As it happens, that's about right. I had five baskets and 8 or 9 herbs.

You are seeing only a few of my favorite baskets here. Flat, loose-weave, these qualities allow for air circulation, which is necessary for herbs to dry. 2011 and 2012? No oven necessary. The humidity rarely got over 45% those summers.

I didn't have a tight-enough weave wicker basket for the juniper berries, so I improvised. Improvisation is king! Well, improvisation will sometimes mess you up, but it's good to have an open mind!

Plantains to the left, yarrow & comfrey in back, and linden blossoms under the sieve ... somewhere.
Juniper berries. For real! The blue color leaves them as they dry. ... Also, someone had told me to pierce them to help them dry. That's a pain in the butt! Hurts my pinchy muscles in my thumb! But I did it, because the last time I dried junipers, they molded up like BIG dogs!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Watch your ditches for bloomers!

There are a ton of plants blooming in the ditches just now, and I want you to look at them. It's not just a blur of green and yellow, now ... Maybe you could go down a country road where you should only go 50, tops, right? ... Right? ... lol

Compass plants are blooming, several sunflowers, showy partridge pea, birdsfoot trefoil (okay, like it's been blooming all summer, to be truthful), I believe I'm seeing flowering spurge and snow-on-the-mountain. Tall red clover is still blooming. What else?

Ah, and the horrible, the invasive, the *cute* Queen Anne's Lace. I even went to the one place I know a woman has it in her yard, just to look, in the next town over. Yup, it's there. Every year. It's not going anywhere soon! It's having a spectacular year. Usually I see it in *one*place* along my highway. This year it's along a stretch of 10 miles of this highway. Are you seeing that, too? Mullein is doing better this year in my yard, but I still don't see it other places. Maybe where you are, it's different.

I haven't had time to go investigate with my camera, so ... sorry! You'll need to do that part on your own.

Let me know what's blooming near YOU!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bee balm, yarrow, etc., and the grooviest seed heads EVER

Russian sage, the last of the yarrow and the last of the bee balm.
 Yarrow hanging to dry.
Yarrow next to pineapple weed next to sage, next to sweet Annie.
 These look darker in real life. I have so few! *sob*
So fine.
These are from Bluebird Nursery @ Clarkson, NE
About 20 new rocks for the rock garden. Some of them had to be stacked. It's a thing.
Physalis or Chinese lanterns, related to tomatillos.
 Rudeckia hirta, black-eyed susan.
 The rockin'-est seed heads EVER. Illinois bundleflower has an inconspicuous flower, like a pale white pompon. Es no importante! The really cool part of this plant, visually, is its seed pod. They are crescents, arranged in this loose sphere, that are my FAVE in the weird seed head department. Very cool!
This is a more distant view of them.
Somedamnedmint. I don't know what species. Unkillable. Over the years I've been calling it "monster mint." Cute, though.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A groovy moth! A getting-rare butterfly.

Virgin Tiger Moth, Grammia virgo. It was hanging on the curb at Dollar General this afternoon.

Female Monarch butterfly, laying eggs on a milkweed Tuesday. Wellllll, maybe not in this exact picture, but that's was she was up to.